Ibn Maytham al-Bahrani

Priority: c, Quality: b
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Ibn Maytham al-Bahrani
The Mosque and Tomb of Ibn Maytham al-Bahrani in Manama, Bahrain
The Mosque and Tomb of Ibn Maytham al-Bahrani in Manama, Bahrain
Personal Information
Full NameKamāl al-Dīn Maytham b. ʿAlī b. Maytham al-Bahrānī
Well-Known AsIbn Maytham al-Bahrani
Studied inIraq, Bahrain
Death679or699/1280-1 or 1299-1300
Burial PlaceManama
Scholarly Information
ProfessorsAs'ad b. 'Abd al-Qahir b. As'ad al-Isfahani, 'Ali b. Sulayman al-Bahrani and Nasir al-Din al-Tusi

Kamāl al-Dīn Maytham b. ʿAlī b. Maytham al-Baḥrānī (Arabic: كمال الدین میثم بن علي بن میثم البحراني) (b.636/1238-9 – d. 679 or 699/1280-1 or 1299-1300), was a famous Shi'a hadith scholar, jurist and theologian in seventh/thirteenth century. After he finished his educations and studies, at the request of Iraqi scholars, he started teaching and writing books. Ibn Maytham is best known for his great knowledge in 'ilm al-Kalam (theology), and many works in this field and other fields of Islamic studies have been attributed to him. Misbah al-salikin (the great commentary on Nahj al-balagha) and Qawa'id al-maram fi 'ilm al-kalam are among them.


Some historians and biographers believe his given name was Kamal al-Din. Little is known about his life. It is known that he was born in 636/1238-9[1] and was a student of As'ad b. 'Abd al-Qahir b. As'ad al-Isfahani and 'Ali b. Sulayman al-Bahrani.[2]

Although there is no clue in biographical sources about the place of his educations and studies, most probably he received his education in Iraq and in Shi'a populated areas like Hillah; then, he returned to Bahrain and had a quiet life, without any notable social activity.

Author and Teacher

After a while, scholars in Iraq, especially in Hillah, who considered Ibn Maytham a great scholar, asked him to teach and train students and write books. At first, he rejected the request. However, after a while, he moved to Iraq[3] and most probably took residence in Hillah, since scholars who narrated from him, like Sayyid 'Abd al-Karim b. Tawus[4] and al-'Allama al-Hilli,[5] were from Hillah.

Khwajih Nasir al-Din al-Tusi was his contemporary and it has been recorded that al-Tusi was his student in jurisprudence and Ibn Maytham was his student in theology.[6]

In fact, Ibn Maytham became famous in theology and even in his commentary on Nahj al-balagha (Misbah al-salikin), he has adopted theological and philosophical approaches.

Approach in Reasoning and Arguments

Ibn Maytham often followed the method of Khwajih Nasir al-Din in his book Tajrid al-i'tiqad, in presenting topics and the style of arguments and reasoning. Unlike al-'Allama al-Hilli, he mostly grounds his arguments in the scope of reason rather than that of revelation or traditions,[7] but he does not seem as expert as 'Allama in terms of having comprehensive knowledge over others' different opinions.

Theological Opinions

Qawa'id al-maram fi 'ilm al-kalam

Ibn Maytham holds that knowing God is a rational obligation and such a knowledge cannot be obtained merely by following authorities or means of revelation and tradition.

Apparently, he chose the opinion of Mu'tazilites over that of Ash'arites regarding the issue of the existence of a Creator (for the universe).[8]

About prophethood, he adopted a very specific philosophical approach and explained it according to different aspects of what (essence), if (existence), why (reason), how (quality)and who (person).[9]

Regarding resurrection and the hereafter, he accepted the opinion of al-Hasan al-Basri who believed that only major limbs of man which do not undergo any changes nor decay will be resurrected in the hereafter.[10]

As an Expert Theologian

During his lifetime, he was famous and known as philosopher, researcher, the paragon of jurists and hadith scholars and an expert theologian. Al-Turiyhi regarded him peer to Nasir al-Din al-Tusi in theology.

Also, following the request of his friends and students, Sulayman al-Mahuzi al-Bahrani wrote a biography of Ibn Maytham titled al-Salafat al-bahiyya fi tarjimat al-Maythamiyya. According to him, jurists, traditionists, theologians and experts in Arabic literature referred to his opinions and narrations, either directly or indirectly.


Misbah al-salikin or Sharh Nahj al-balagha

About 30 works are attributed to Ibn Maytham:


  • Misbah al-salikin or the great commentary on Nahj al-balagha. In the preface to the book, Ibn Maytham mentions that writing this book had been encouraged by 'Ata' al-Mulk al-Juwayni.[11]
The Tomb of Ibn Maytham al-Bahrani in the Mosque of al-Shaykh Maytham al-Bahrani in Manama, Bahrain



Most biographical sources have recorded that he passed away in 679/1280-1, but considering the fact that he finished al-Sharh al-saghir li-nahj al-balagha in 681/1282-3,[18] he must have lived past that date. Kintury mentioned his demise at 699/1299-1300.[19]

His grave is located in Manama, Bahrain.


  1. Tunakābunī,Qiṣaṣ al-ʿulamāʾ, p. 69.
  2. Afandī Iṣfahānī, Rīyāḍ al-ʿulamāʾ, vol. 5, p. 227.
  3. Māḥūzī Baḥrānī, al-Salāfat al-bahīyya fī tarjumat al-meythamīyya, vol. 1, p. 43-44.
  4. Afandī Iṣfahānī, Rīyāḍ al-ʿulamāʾ, vol. 5, p. 227.
  5. Khāwnsārī, Rawḍāt al-jannāt, vol. 7, p. 216.
  6. Māḥūzī Baḥrānī, al-Salāfat al-bahīyya fī tarjumat al-meythamīyya, vol. 1, p. 47; Nūrī, Mustadrak al-wasāʾil, vol. 3, p. 426; Khāwnsārī, Rawḍāt al-jannāt, vol. 2, p. 302.
  7. Baḥrānī, Qawāʿid al-marām fī ʿilm al-kalām, p. 28.
  8. Baḥrānī, Qawāʿid al-marām fī ʿilm al-kalām, p. 63, 82,84.
  9. Baḥrānī, Qawāʿid al-marām fī ʿilm al-kalām, p. 121.
  10. Baḥrānī, Qawāʿid al-marām fī ʿilm al-kalām, p. 139-144; for his other opinions see: Sharīf Lāhījī, Maḥbūb al-qulūb, vol. 2, p. 545-547.
  11. Sharḥ Nahj al-balagha,vol. 1, p. 4.
  12. Kunturī, Kashf al-ḥujub wa al-astār ʿan asmā al-kutub wa al-asfār, p. 349.
  13. Tihrānī, al-Dharīʿa, vol. 17, p. 179.
  14. Tihrānī, al-Dharīʿa, vol. 20, p. 198.
  15. Ṭurayḥī, Majmaʿ al-baḥrayn, vol. 6, p. 172.
  16. Sharīf Lāhījī, Maḥbūb al-qulūb, vol. 2, p. 545.
  17. Afandī Iṣfahānī, Rīyāḍ al-ʿulamāʾ, vol. 2, p. 545.
  18. Tihrānī, Ṭabaqāt aʿlām al-Shīʿa, 7th century, p. 188.
  19. Kunturī, Kashf al-ḥujub wa al-astār ʿan asmā al-kutub wa al-asfār, p. 291.


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